Friday, April 13, 2018

Beach trip on Friday the 13th

I planned this trip over 10 months ago, a beach trip for the Spousal Unit's birthday.   This is not any beach, but Miramar at Sandestin, where the water is clear and the sand is like sugar!

We got a late start Thursday night, with me tossing the necessities into the car:  cool cabanas, chairs, wagon, yeti with already made Rita, and two CPAP machines!

For us to be old timers at this, you would think we would be more prepared!  No beach bag, no beach towel, no sun screen, limited snacks, but plenty of Ritas!

As soon as you top the slight hill on the board walk, you can smell the salt air.  When you reach the crest, you get the sight you have been waiting for all winter, that emerald green and blue water!  Yes!  BEACH!

We pick our spot, and pull out the two cool cabanas.   It's been a while!  One canopy is brand new, a replacement for one stolen in Fort Myers last summer.  We almost forgot how easy the Set up was.  Chairs were in place in no time!

In an instant, I was bird watching  from my favorite perch, beach chair in the shade!  First sighting was an orange crusted strut butt.  That ole gal was giving it her all in her attempts to get her umbrella anchored in the sand.  The Spousal Unit has a sharper eye, noting that one of the girls in this particular covey of birds was the niece of one of her high school classmates.  How women are able to keep up with all that is beyond me!

A little boy and his dad were sneaking up very slowly and quietly.   He whispered to us "I'm gonna catch me one of those birds, but you have to be very quiet....".  His dad had beer in hand.  I told him, "hey, no drinking while on the hunt!"

All around us were these coveys of women!  The first one we spotted had that familiar face in it.  The one behind us, was a bachelorette trip, all in their 40's.  One was a recent widow, and the others were trying to spot her a prize!  We overheard them making up commentary about the events occurring around them.  We were doing the same!

This one woman had on this one piece skin tight onesie!  That suit was from head to toe!  Then she came out with this cape!  Her onesie reminded me of those beach blankets that doesn't let the sand come through!  With the cape, she could have quickly become a beach kite!

It's funny to watch these birds use up a whole spray can of sun screen in just four squirts!  The rest becomes airborne and heads down wind!  The gal with the vaping habit had a strange taste in flavors that we all got to smell down wind!

The young bucks spent the day getting up their courage through cans of beer.  They decided they would all succeed or all go down in a ball of flames with an attempted hit on one of the many coneys around them.  Crash and burn they did!

I think all the women over 40 were on sensory alert overload.  They all spotted the one girl that had way too much to drink, being cared for by some guy she had just met today.  We got a recap of her day from the bachelorette party that had been measuring her up all day!  We are goimg to meet up with them tomorrow to add another chapter to "a day at the beach"!

Stay tuned......

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Not Your Normal Day at HD

Working as a contractor at HD, I am asked daily, "do you work here?", "can you help me?", and a host of other questions.  The best trick to avoid this is to NEVER look up!  Some will stand there, waiting to ask you their question.  Some just walk away, others persist in their waiting on you to look up, while others just bark out their question.  Our usual response is "I don't work for HD."  We are compensated on the items we assemble, so interruptions cost us time, which is money.

Today, my "don't look up" force field wasn't working!    Three different customers broke through and "got me"!

Old Guy Gardener:  This dude was looking for a rake.  Not any rake, but one with a telescopic pole!  Sir, all the rakes they have are right there.  Old Guy Gardener dude would not give up.  "well, I'm looking for a rake with a telescopic pole to use in my garden.  Those on the rack will not do.  Is there another area in the store where I can look?"  Me:  "Sir, you may want to ask someone in an orange apron, or ask at the service desk."  Old Guy Gardener, "but why can't you help me???  Even more conversation.  I have got to get that hat that says "I don't work here!"

Seven Acre lawn Guy:  Hey mister, do you know anything about the Ariens zero turn mowers?  Me:  I take them out of the crates and prep them for sale.  Dude:  But are they any good?  Me:  Sir, I just take them out of the crate and prep them for sale. They are the most popular, and don't stay on the lot very long.  Dude:  But will it hold up?  Me:  That depends on the operator.  Dude: That's true.  Do many come back?  Me:  I take them out of the crate and prep them for sale.  I need access to the intercom:  "Manager!  Complicated Order!!!!"

Middle Eastern Dudes:  These two guys bought a small tiller.  The manager brought them and the tiller to me.  Manager:  can you assemble this for them?  Me:  Now?  Manager:  Yes.  How long will it take?  Me: 3-4 hours.  Kidding, 15 minutes.  We instructed the two middle eastern dudes to go spent more money.  Just as I was finishing up, they returned.  I told them:  "mix this container of 2 cycle oil with a gallon of gas, put use ethanol-free gasoline."  Here it comes....

"My English is very poor.  What is 2 cycle?"  Five minute conversation about 2 cycle vs 4 cycle engines.

"I no have gallon can.  I have five gallon can"  Ok, mix 5 containers of 2 cycle oil with 5 gallons of gas, the non-ethanol kind.  "What is ethanol gas?  Another 5 minute conversation about gas.....

"How do I start it?"  Me:  read the instruction manual for the proper steps to operate this machine.  Dude:  "my English is very poor.  Can you show me?  Another 10 minutes to show him how to crank it.  Then it dawns on him, "Oh, I have weedeater, like weedeater?"  Me:  yes just like weedeater!

"Can I use weedeater gas in tiller?"  Yes!  You got it!

"My mower, when I turn the key, the mower does not crank, just makes noise, like errerrerrerr.....".  New Battery, I ask?  "Yes new battery, must be starter?"  Me:  yes sounds like it.  "You fix mower?" Me:  No Sir!  Check with tool rental at the other end of the store. "I not need to rent, I need to fix."  Me:  Tool rental can refer you to a repair shop.

They leave, then back again.  "This the right oil?  2 cycle?"  Me:  Yes.  Remember 5 containers to 5 gallons of gasoline.  They leave.  They return  "I want box back."  Me:  here you go!

The younger guy looked like he understood everything.  I ask, do you understand?  He said yes, but he hardly said a word to the older guy, with limited English.  And I'm an old southern redneck trying to explain!  I'm guessing the younger guy did not want to embarrass the older guy in front of me!

I made $10 on that tiller.  Build time and conversation took an hour.  Now you know why we use the "don't look up" rule!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

It Ain't What It Used To Be

There is one thing certain in life, and that is change.

I was visiting an old friend in the hospital yesterday. His daughter was there and she had on what appeared to be a brand new pair of jeans, but the knees were busted out.  I asked her if she bought them that way?  She said, yes, that's the new style!  What???

When cable tv came out, I remember my Pops saying he would never pay for that, you can only watch one channel at a time.  The antenna and four stations was enough for him.  That man now has one of the fastest remote control fingers I've ever seen.

When bottle water showed up in stores, my Pops said he would never pay for drinking water, that's what the sink tap was for.  Now we have smart water!

Growing up, if you wanted to put pine straw in your landscape, you went to the trees and raked it and filled your pickup.  Then they started baling it.  Now, Home Depot has it self contained in bags so your SUV won't get trashed.  So, you are paying more,  for less???

Tailgating changed forever with the arrival of the popup canopy.  It Used to be a frenzy to "claim your spot!"  Eventually you started paying college students a few dollars to do it for you.  Now you spend thousands for a company to do all the work.

Gasoline now has at least 10% ethanol in it, which messes up small engines.  You now have to pay considerably more for "ethanol free" gas!

I remember buying my first washer and dryer, with all the fancy electronics.  Barely a year later, the circuit boards were fried.  My repair buddy said, "Bill, you're a smart guy.  You know electronics and lint & water don't mix!"  Been buying them with switches ever since!

You buy your kids these smart phones so you can reach them when you need them.  Who answers a phone call now???  First, it was text messages, and now it's Snappy Chat!

Holidays, for the most part, are meant for family gatherings and catching up on life events.  Now, everybody is in the same room, but they all are on their smart phones using social media.  We even have secret hand signals or text messages suggesting it's time to go!

Used to, as you got older, your body parts would begin to fail.  You and your crew would sit around complaining about all the aches and pains.  Eventually you would end up in a wheel chair, or worse.  Now you go to an orthopedic doctor and get replacement joints.  My spousal unit has two new hips and a knee.  She's good for at least another 100,000 miles!

We used to have to look outside at a thermometer for the temp.  Then we got the weather channel mobile app.  Now, I just ask Alexa!

This list could go on and on!  But then, something in this list would change.  Slow down world!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Goodbye My Friend

I said goodbye to my best friend yesterday.   We have been together for over six years.  We have been through a lot together, traveling together from one adventure to another.  You have been there for me from the day we first met.  You were there on the day My life changed forever.  My best friend was a 2012 Kia Sorento!  A car?  Yep!

I was in a job for 20 years, doing what I knew best, number crunching.   Along the way, I became the care taker of the employees of that company.  Then, the new guy arrived.   It didn't take long for things to change.  First it was the little things.  Then they became bigger. Finally, I had enough.  It was time for a change.   But how do you do this at age 54??  I figured,  make it through the busy season, and then find out.

I got my last annual review.   This time, my rank of officer was lowered.  If I did not get back to the prior level in three years, I would lose several benefits, including the keys to the company car.  This was pretty much the last nail in the coffin.  But then, it hit me.  I could decide when the keys got turned in!

The next week i went on the hunt, for a new car.  I didn't need anything fancy, just a ride.  My last three purchases were Dodges from Doug Wilson.  I liked his location, right on Lakeland Drive.  He no longer handled Dodge, but he had just added KIA.

Through the magic of internet searches, I decided on a Kia Sorento.  I liked that it was an SUV, and had some of the early techy stuff that caught my interest.

I bought the Sorento, and the next day, I sent an email to the fleet department indicating that I was surrendering the keys to my company car.  Damn, that felt good!

Several weeks past, then one day, on a Friday afternoon, the bossman called me into his office.  I was informed that my position with the company was being eliminated!  At first, I was like, WTH???  But then it hit me!  Here was my way out!!!  As I was walking out the door that last time, I realized that it was the car that finally was the last straw!!!  Thank you Kia Sorento!

On that day, me and my Kia began a new adventure!   First there was the unemployment check.   I collected it for two years, the only requirement was job searches for three positions per week.  The internet and career builders made that easy.  I applied for over 250 jobs during that time, resulting in only two interviews.  Hum.  Let's see.  I was over 55, over qualified, and overpaid.  The employers could hire someone younger,  trained at newer technology, and pay them less.  Rutrow....

During this time, I was the chauffeur for the Spousal unit.  At least the bus driver got to eat free!  I finally found a contract job, putting standees together at the movie theaters.

 Standees are the cardboard promo signs that advertise upcoming movies.  This was actually a lot of fun.  Me and my Kia were in the know about all the new upcoming feature films!

Then there were the beach trips, lots of them!  And i had the margarita machine! I was having the best times! I wass having the time of my life!  No more work stress, no more 8 to 5!  Eventually though,  I needed to find something else to occupy my time.  Thank you again. To the internet search engines!

I would be able to start drawing out of my retirement soon, and I needed some supplemental income. I found work doing product assembly.  Work alone, unsupervised, at my own pace.  Sounded like just the job for me and Sorento!

That car and I covered the entire State of Mississippi, building product for HD and several variety stores.  We have been to Oxford, Tupelo, Laurel, Hattiesburg, and to the coast!

But, as we travelled these roads, my friend, Kia Sorento, began putting on the miles.  It was now time to give the ole girl a rest.  What better send off than to update her with a newer model!

So, I have said goodbye to my best friend!  Thank you for being there when my life got transformed.  I had forgotten how to smile, and you helped bring it back with a vengeance!   You will be missed, but a new chapter begins!

Hopefully those of you that are struggling with a job decision will find your KIA!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Como Steak House

With a condo in that town up north, the Spousal Unit and I are trying to eat our way through Oxford.  In eighteen months, we have given it a pretty good run!  We have missed out on some opportunities, as restaurants open and close all the time.  In a few instances, its been close, but no cigar.  Walked up to Taylor Grocery in early January, only to discover they were closed, but having a private party.  We tried the Ravine, but parking made it impossible, on a dark, rainy night.  Eventually we will get there.

This weekend was a short trip, for the Spousal Unit to attend the Ladies Baseball Forum on Saturday, then she was flying to Baltimore on Sunday morning.  I dropped her off and made my rounds. First stop was at BBB (Big Bad Breakfast) for their Eggs Benedict, oh so good!  The waitress was Kristin, a gal from Inverness (my hometown), who tried her best to get me to try their new donut special.  If she would've at least offered a sample!  My next stop was Bottletree Bakery.  They have the absolute best pastries that you ever put in your mouth!  I got enough to share with the Spousal Unit, because I knew she would be starving, from looking at all those tall and slender baseball boys in their uniforms!  (She was!)

The Como Steak House had been on out "to go to" list for months, but its a 45 minute ride from our Condo, in that town up north.  Since this was such a short trip, why not?  Otis could entertain himself for a couple of hours, and ole Gustoff was upstairs and could check on him.

While the Spousal Unit was at the ladies forum, I did my research.  Como is 45 minutes from our house, just 15 minutes north of Batesville.  Their foodie pictures on the internet looked awesome.  the are open 5-10 Monday -Thursday, and 4:30-10 on Friday and Saturday.  Wait???  4:30? Who eats dinner at 4:30???

The ladies forum was over at 3:00, so we decided to dine early, come back and pick up Otis, then travel back to Cliffview Drive.  5:00 sounded early enough for us, shouldn't be crowed at that hour, and we can get home at a descent hour.  45 minutes later, we are in downtown Como, MS!  I turn on main street, as directed by Brender, out GPS lady.  As we get closer to the address, we begin to notice that the parking on Main Street is completely full of cars in every direction!  WTH???? it's only 5:00!!!!!

I drop off the Spousal Unit at the door, to get our name on the list.  We and the Acura proceeded to go to the county line for a parking place.  Did i mention its only 5:00????  There are several other restaurants, including the Windy City Grill along the street, but there is no way that all the drivers of these cars are eating a steak, right????  As I get halfway back, it became obvious what was going on.  In the  middle of the block, they also have a venue for weddings and such, with a big one going on right now.  A peek thru the window, and there are at least 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen, all lined up for photos.  Somebody was gonna write a BIG check!

I arrive at the door of Como Steak House, and there is a crowd already standing.  They must be waiting to be seated.  Nope.  The restaurant is already FULL, and folks are already chewing beef!  I look around, no Spousal Unit.  I make my way to the back of the  restaurant, and there she is, sitting at the last tow seats available for the first seating, at the end of the bar.  As you make your way thru the restaurant, you get to see what others have already ordered.  Then, there is the meat case, full of select cuts of prime beef.  Then as you make your way further, you see that they have two charcoal pits with attendants working the coals and turning the steaks, and hitting them with melted butter!  There is even an upstairs dining room and it was full!

The meal comes with a salad, slice of Texas toast, a baked potato, and the steak cut of your choice.  There are several other entree items on the menu, but when in a steak house, you know what to do!  The Spousal Unit got their smaller ribeye, and I got the larger cut with the bone in.  Both were cooked to perfection. The guy next to us got a "chopped steak" (dentures????) and his wife had a plate with one of the bigger cuts.  She ended up sending it back to the fire for a little more doneness.  I don't think she knew her temperature chart!

This was my plate, and it was to die for!  We were so full, the word dessert never even came up!  I loved this place and I will return, hoping they have my favorite cut of porterhouse for me to try.  If you decide to give it a try, you better be on Vince Lombari time!

Sunday, January 28, 2018


The spousal unit loves to do her Groupon thang and she came across a 2 for 1 for a tour of the Cathead Distillery. It's the first distillery founded in Mississippi since prohibition, and located in downtown Jackson,  behind the convention center.  At $15 for the two of us, why not?

As part of the "tour" you get the run of the place and four samples of their product at the end.   They sponsor events at the Distillery throughout the year, with one coming up in several weeks.

You can see from the picture that as you approach the building from the road, the name is clearly visible.  A taco food truck is usually there on tour days, which in this instance was on Saturday. The tours are on the hour from 1-5, and are limited to small groups, the biggest being the one at 5.

Once you are inside, you go to the bar and check in, to validate that you are on the list.  The building is an old warehouse with lots of space for entertaining groups and those special events.  They have a dart board, corn hole, connect 4, Jenga, and card games for you to occupy your time while you wait for your tour or afterward.  They also sell beer by the bottle or draft.   Their products are not for sale in the Distillery but you get to sample 4 at the end of the tour.
They have several of these homemade tables and benches for you and your crew to use before and after the tour.  There was a gal there playing and singing, but the acoustics in a warehouse are something to be desired.  The resident dog enjoyed it though, as he joined in with her, howling along as she played and sang.

When it's your tour time, you gather up with the tour guide,  beer in hand.  A rarity, I think the spousal unit and I were the only ones without a drink, during the tour!
This was our tour guide.  He's the computer tech dude and part time tour guide.  He gets all the free beverages he wants, see the cup???  Behind him is the workings of the Distillery.  The acoustics of the building makes hearing him a challenge, especially with the gal and the dog singing in the background.

The tour lasted about an hour.  You get the history of Cathead and how it got its name, you See the process they go through from start to finish, and then, the best part, you get small samples of their products.

I left out a lot of the details, which is all part of taking the tour.  I recommend that you go as a group, and include dinner afterwards to round out the day.  I "liked" their Facebook page so I can keep up with their sponsored events for a return visit, hopefully in a group of friends.  The more the merrier!

If you plan your day just right, you can also hit Lucky Town Brewery, but may be another blog post!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Angels on the Highway

You never know when you will find or encounter an angel.  Today I met two!

Today, we were on our way to the funeral of my Uncle Bubba, up in the Delta, in the sleepy little town of Inverness, MS.  The family was gathered at Cousin Will's house for a meal prior to the visitation and funeral at the Baptist Church.  We were running late, and I didn't want to be a bother at Wills so I decided to venture on to Indianola for a quick bite.

I knew a finger or two would be shaken at me for not coming by.  In small towns like Inverness, you never go hungry, especially during a funeral. Feelings get hurt if you don't come by, even if its for a slice of pie or a cup of coffee.

With time to get a quick bite, and make it back for the visitation, we approached the intersection of hwy 49 and 82.  Suddenly i had a sneezing attack as i was pulling up to the stop sign, and the next thing you know, pop!, I had hit the curb and blown out the front left tire!

Well crap!  So much for making it to the funeral service! I slowly made my way into the parking lot of the old Webers truck stop.  Boy, the memories that flashed through my head from my youth!

We were in the spousal unit's Acura.  These days they do not put spare tires in the trunk, you just get a tire inflation kit.  Those damn Japanese!  Time to dial 1-800 Acura roadside assistance, and the two hour wait for a tow truck and ride back to Brandon. :-(

I made several calls and a text message to see about getting the spousal unit to the funeral service while I saw about the car, but no luck.

Just then i had my first encounter with a highway angel!  A black guy was in the parking lot working on an 18 wheeler.  He walks up and asks me if he can help me with my flat.  Bless him!  I went through my issues with Acura's and the lack of a spare in the MDX.  He then proceeds to tell me, "well, I have a friend that does tire repairs on trucks."  Now, keep in mind, this is Sunday, 1:00,  in the Mississippi Delta, what's my luck in finding a 19 inch Japanese specialty tire???

Well, son of a gun!   The tire repair guy answered the call, and he just passed the only tire store open on Sunday in Indianola. He makes a u-turn, gets the specs for the tire from us, and low and behold, they have one used tire, $40, cash.  Sold!

The tire repair guy, Chris Barnes, arrives, picks me up, and we are off to get that tire!  I have just met my second highway angel of the day!
Yep!  They had the used tire, including a hand full of leaves in the bottom to go with it.  Back to Webers truck stop parking lot we go!

We get back to the car, and highway angel #1 and the truck he was working on, are gone.  I look at the rim and notice the need for a specialty socket for the locked lug nut.  Ok God, you have had my six so far.....  yep, the lug socket was in the back!  My new friend Chris worked his magic, and Presto!  Used spare 19 inch tire is on the ground!  I asked him how much I owed him.  He says, "what ever you want to pay."  Did i mention this is the Mississipi Delta?  I gave him all I had, $55, and offered to meet at an ATM for more.  His response, just drive safe my friend.

Would you believe we made it to the funeral service with five minutes to spare.  God was in that santuary, but he had his highway angels working overtime, on a Sunday, in the Delta!  God's country, yes indeed!